Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa on the Ongoing Efforts to Reforest Africa
The continent of Africa has experienced alarming rates of deforestation. While the land is being reclaimed for industrial and agricultural uses, the natural environment suffers. Environmental activists and concerned business leaders are showing the way toward reforestation on the continent.
Each year, old-growth rainforests disappear at an alarming rate. Enough trees were lost in 2018 to cover all of Belgium or double the area of the state of Connecticut. After these forests are cut down, it is likely that they will never return to their previous borders, even with robust reforestation efforts.
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, an African business leader and philanthropist, explains the state of African reforestation programs and how his company, GTS/MTC, is helping to make a difference in this area.
The Importance of the African Forest
21.4 percent of the continent of Africa is forested. These forests provide important habitat for many endangered animals like the mountain gorilla. Tree cover provides a moderating effect on temperature and humidity, preventing the land from becoming severely dried-out.
Forests capture carbon from the atmosphere in their process of respiration. They take in carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This process helps to reduce the spread of global warming, which is caused by an oversupply of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Forests help to prevent erosion and soil loss as well.
When forests are cut down the land is most often used for agricultural purposes. Planting crops or grazing animals on former forest land produces a lower level of diversification in the environment. When crops are not properly rotated, the soil can become depleted of necessary nutrients. This can lead to loss of agricultural land, imperiling food supplies.
Forests are also cut down in favor of industrial uses. Some industries are beginning to recognize that they have a severe impact on the environment, but largely, forests are cut down indiscriminately. Industrial landowners need to be taught about the damage that clearcutting trees causes for the environment.
Losing forests means that the overall character of the land in Africa is changing. Reforestation efforts will help to return the natural balance of the land. When the land is reforested, it can return to a more natural balance, preserving the environment for generations to come.
Many millions of seedlings are planted each year in Africa. The most popular type of tree that is planted to restore ecosystems is called the gao tree. The gao tree grows naturally in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, making it an excellent choice for reforestation efforts. The gao tree is also known as the winterthorn.
It can take some effort to convince farmers and industrial concerns to reforest their properties. Farmers are interested in cultivating as much of their property as possible. Industrial concerns believe that they need the land to expand their buildings. Environmental advocates have been steadily educating farmers and industrial landowners about the benefits of reforestation.
New trees need to be nurtured in order to grow well. Farmers are trained to care for the trees, making sure that they are well-situated on the land and that they are receiving enough water. When these new forests are taken care of, they will be more likely to succeed and to reintroduce natural habitats.
Efforts Toward Reforestation
Environmentally conscious companies like Ayabatwa’s GTS/MTC are helping to reforest the continent of Africa. By helping to plant trees and distribute seedlings, GTS/MTC and other environmentally responsible companies are making a difference in the fight against deforestation.
GTS/MTC distributes 2.2 million seedlings each year. 1.8 million of these seedlings go directly to farmers. 500,000 seedlings are planted on land belonging to the company. 200,000 seedlings are distributed to hospitals, schools, churches, and other public institutions. These trees will make a difference when it comes to the health of the African ecosystem.
GTS/MTC is also instrumental in teaching farmers how to work within good agricultural practices. This helps to preserve the land for future use. The proper rotation of crops is beneficial for the health of the soil. The use of organic fertilizers is one of their primary goals.
Making a Difference for Africa
While African business concerns have not always been environmentally conscious, the tide is beginning to turn. Responsible companies like GTS/MTC are showing the way toward a healthier African biosphere. Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa believes that reforesting Africa will continue to show benefits well into the coming decades. The preservation of wild lands in Africa is the primary goal, but reforestation efforts will form an important part of the restoration of the ecosystem.
The loss of forests will change the African environment in dangerous ways. Reforesting the continent will take a concerted effort, but the benefits far outweigh the difficulty of convincing farmers and businesses to plant trees.